What Does the Sudden Departure of Jeff Ray, CEO of Ellucian, Mean?

Principal Analyst

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

On Monday July 31, 2017, Ellucian issued a press release signaling two significant changes in executive management. First, Jeff Ray, CEO since October 2014, is no longer at the helm. When Jeff Ray was appointed to the position, according to the company’s press release, he was tasked with customer success and driving product innovation.

The lack of an immediate successor may be an indicator that the decision was unanticipated. Ray may have made the decision or the board may have made it for him. Either way, board member Peter Sinisgalli is stepping in to lead the company while a successor is recruited.

Note also that the same press release includes a replacement for product leadership, bringing in Namita Dhallan as Chief Product Officer.

Customers may benefit from a change in leadership. A new leader will likely bring sweeping changes throughout the organization. The mission will be clear. Drive customer success and innovate.

The forced upgrade to Banner 9 has ‘bought’ Ellucian some time to focus on customer success. The customer base was forced into a difficult, and immediate, decision with little warning. Described by some as “Upgrade by Gunpoint” the mammoth Banner customer base had three options, and minimal time to strategize.

  1. Upgrade to Banner 9, make quick decisions, and place their bets on their legacy supplier to have created a better mousetrap, and to be better aligned with the customers’ needs and demands.
  2. Do a “Lift and Shift” operation where the intention would be to temporarily move to a plain vanilla version of Banner 9, but as a stopgap measure, just until they could evaluate and see proven performance from some of the more modern cloud-based solutions that are making impressive entrances into the market. Subsequently, the institution would select a new solution.
  3. Select a new vendor and solution, schedule implementation/training resources quickly, and attempt to “beat the clock” before the de-support of Banner. In light of the timeframe to implement new solutions, this affords a single transition, yet requires fortitude and faith that the implementation and go-live can be accomplished in time.

The Ellucian giant is clearly responding to market pressures, strong competition, and technology innovations. Bold moves are important and deserve to be watched closely.

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Principal Analyst
Vicki Tambellini, CEO and founder of the Tambellini Group, has more than 30 years of experience and is an award-winning software company executive, author, blogger, consultant, guest-speaker, and entrepreneur. She has received numerous awards and honors from companies including PeopleSoft, Oracle, and NCR. Vicki has been a guest speaker at SACUBO, the Oracle HEUG, ELearning! Summit Events, Smart Woman’s Network, Richmond Venture Forum, and numerous private venues. Vicki founded Tambellini Group in 2001.

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